What Thanksgiving Means to Me Essay Contest Winners

2018 SDPIA Thanksgiving Essay Contest, 4H Category: What Thanksgiving Means to Me


By Tatiana R., age 12, Town ‘N Kountry Kids 4-H Club of Sanborn County, South Dakota

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse” (Henry Van Dyke). On Thanksgiving I reflect on all the kind deeds shared with me, and I look back to my own responses to those blessings. Did I receive them graciously? Did I give someone a blessing in return? Did I show my appreciation? Throughout the year I learn from those around me about kindness and empathy. These lessons come not only from my parents and family members but also from my friends, club members, neighbors, and community. Sometimes they come from people I do not even know like a military member or a family who went through a natural disaster. Other times I learn from the loss of loved ones and challenges my family and I go through. It all makes me appreciate the blessings that surround me everyday and shape the person I am. I am a person who loves to give love. I start Thanksgiving by making a prayer to God that if I failed to show gratitude for any of my blessings then help me share that feeling today. “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough” (Meister Eckhart). I believe that is true in the inverse too. If you cannot say thank you personally to each person who has blessed your life, showed you kindness and taught you a lesson of life, then a prayer is a powerful thank you. God is always the first Thank you; followed by my family. I wake up everyday knowing love, joy and security because of my family. On Thanksgiving I make sure they know how much I appreciate them everyday. Then I reflect and thank my friends, club members and neighbors because, in small and big ways, they choose to share part of their lives with me. I pray they know my gratitude through my words and actions. I also reflect on people who make my community the home I love. I live in a farming community, and I see everyday how their hard work feeds this country. They are living examples of Thanksgiving and I pray they know of my efforts in my community to support them. Lastly, I send a prayer of thank you to the people I don’t know personally and who may not even know they blessed my life. I benefited from either their sacrifices or their reaction to life’s challenges that taught me something. To me those are acts of kindness we tend to overlook. Thanksgiving is a symbol of how we should have inner reflection and behave graciously all year-long. People in our lives help make us better human beings and for that generosity we should always be grateful and show it.


2018 SDPIA Thanksgiving Essay Contest FFA Category: What Thanksgiving Means to Me

By Tracy K., age 18, Scotland FFA Chapter, South Dakota

A chilly, crisp wind wraps itself around our small, white farmhouse. Leaves tumble down from the trees as my mother sets the last dish of homemade potato buns on the dining room table. My immediate family is all gathered around, staring hungrily at the lovely feast as my father carves the turkey placing the first piece on my little brother’s plate. One-by-one, we hand around the platters of food and fill our plates so they overflow. After everyone has finished their meal, we clean up the table and kitchen and put our leftovers into containers. We make sure a little bit of everything is put into boxes and then deliver Thanksgiving to the elderly man down the street who doesn’t have any family and didn’t get to eat a Thanksgiving dinner that day. To me, Thanksgiving is sharing the blessings that have been bestowed upon me with those who are less fortunate. I have been taught to not only count my blessings, but to share them. Last year, I was the lucky family member who was able to bring Thanksgiving dinner to old Mr. Morgan. After knocking on his door, I could hear the sound of shuffling feet as he came to greet me. He was delighted to see me and was overjoyed when I placed the dinner on his small table. For weeks after, he would come into the small farmer’s co-op where I work, and express his gratitude for that one small meal. Thanksgiving also is a time for my family to get together and share our memories of the older generations that have passed on. After our cleaning in the kitchen is complete, we all retire to the living room to reminisce about our loved ones. We go around the room and tell our stories, and give one example of what we have learned from our ancestors. In this way, we keep their memories alive, and treasure the lesson they have taught us. Since the very first Thanksgiving, people have come together to share in the abundance of their labors, and that tradition has been passed down from generation to generation. Although our family traditions may seem simple, they bring our family closer to one another and reinforce the importance of not only counting our blessings, but also sharing them.


2018 SDPIA Essay Contest: Family Category Winner

What Thanksgiving means to our family

By Dale P. Tea SD. Family Members: Parents Dale and Tina, Braelyn age 10, Avery age 9, Taytem age 5, Logan age 1.

One of the greatest gifts that God has given us in life is the gift of family. To our family Thanksgiving means to gather together to enjoy His bounty of love and food and expressing gratitude for each blessing He has given us. My name is Dale and my wife and I have four daughters and our youngest, Logan, is 16 months old and has Down Syndrome. We are so thankful to be parents of four children, but I admit that as a father of three typical girls it has been hard to see Logan struggle. She is doing things at around the level of what a 10-month-old would do. This past year has been financially difficult too. Tina quit her job a few months ago to stay home with Logan to help with her development and therapies. I work a full-time job along with three different part-time jobs. Tina recently started doing daycare out of our home to supplement our income. Though it has been challenging, we would not trade this journey for anything! Logan is so funny, beautiful, and has her three older sisters (and Dad) wrapped around her finger. We have seen much kindness and love from family, friends, and strangers. With the birth of Logan, we have been introduced to other families with Down Syndrome children and have become friends with them. There is so much love in these families. I know some in the public look at my family and think we are unfortunate because we have a special needs child, but it is quite the opposite. We are the lucky few. This baby is a miracle. She has brought my family closer together. Thanksgiving to us is also about giving. We enjoy sharing our blessings with others by inviting those we know to our home because they may be alone. We remember and pray for those who have less than us. My wife and I are grateful to be parents of four daughters, that we have jobs, a roof over our head, food on our table, transportation, good health, friends, and family. We do not have the newest and nicest of things but what we have gets us by. It can be easy to get down and compare what others have to what we do not. Thanksgiving is a time of year that helps remind us of the abundant blessings in our life. On Thanksgiving Day we enjoy visiting with other family, hunting, watching football, cooking, and playing games and taking the time to laugh and relax together. Daily life is busy, and this day of rest and celebration is a perfect time to deepen and re-connect with each other. Throughout the day there is much laughter and many memories are made.